Arsenal legend Bob Wilson: Chelsea hard-man Chopper Harris said he never got far enough up the pitch to kick me
- Credit: PA Archive/PA Images
It’s no exaggeration to call Bob Wilson an Arsenal legend. His image is only one of 32 on the outside of the Emirates and he served the club with distinction for more than a decade including lifting the double in 1970-71 under Bertie Mee in that immortal side. Read on as he shares his League Cup memories with Layth Yousif ahead of Wednesday evening’s crucial match with Chelsea in the Carabao Cup.
Arsenal take on Antonio Conte’s Blues in the Carabao Cup semi-final second leg as they aim for a place in the League Cup Final at Wembley at the end of next month against Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.
It is the only domestic trophy Arsene Wenger has yet to land as Gunners boss.
But much-loved Bob believes Arsenal have done well to compete with the likes of City and Wednesday’s opponents Chelsea and their mega-rich owners.
Bob, who played in the 1969 League Cup Final as Swindon Town produced one of the game’s biggest cup shocks, spoke to the Islington Gazette.
He said: “I think I know where the club should be going. You look at how the game changes and if you don’t change with the game then the game is going to leave you behind.
“Look at Chelsea, who won one league title 1954/55 – why did they suddenly become capable of doing what they are doing?
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“Manchester City have been in the doldrums and always second best to United.
“How did they do it? Abramovich and Sheikh Mansour.
“That will continue and we will be banging our heads against the wall until we can match that spending.”
Bob who is loved throughout the land after working as a sports broadcaster for the BBC and ITV for three decades shared an amusing anecdote about bumping into an old Chelsea rival, hard-man Roy ‘Chopper’ Harris.
The former Arsenal great – who launched the inspirational Willow Foundation and is also an ambassador for The Arsenal Foundation – explained: “We are on the road so much with the charity and Megs wasn’t feeling to well so she said she wasn’t cooking.
“So we stopped for fish and chips on the way back,
“I walk in the fish and chip shop and standing there is only one other customer. Ron ‘Chopper’ Harris. I had a big hug with Ron and a chat.
“The guy who owned the fish and chip shop said ‘Are you Bob Wilson?’ I said ‘Yeah, this bloke used to kick me,’ to which Ron replied ‘I never got far enough up the field to kick him.’
“This bloke fell apart laughing and he said ‘I’m an Arsenal fan.’”
Modest Bob’s link to the North London giants stretches back more than five decades. He made 308 appearances and spent almost 30 years with the club as a coach as well as his charity and community work.
He was an ever-present in Bertie Mee’s double-winning side of 1970-71 and when he was goalkeeping coach he worked with Pat Jennings, John Lukic and of course David Seaman, before turning his attention to charity with the Willow Foundation – set up in memory of his daughter Anna.
The Arsenal Foundation have also helped Bob and his wife Megs charity, The Willow Foundation, the only national charity working with seriously ill young adults aged 16 to 40 to fulfil uplifting and unforgettable Special Days.
He added: “The biggest way I shake my head is every time I arrive at Arsenal as an ambassador for the Arsenal Foundation.
“I drive down the road, facing what is the shop on one side of the ground and there I am, one of 32 players up on the side of The Emirates, linking arms with of all people, Dennis Bergkamp.
“I look at that and I laugh because I’m sure I’ll be the first one they take down when there’s a few more Thierry Henry’s around.
“It does make me laugh that I’m there simply because we went 17 years without a trophy then we had seven years of finishing first or second.”
*Bob is also backing the book Glove Story which is a must-read for all those who are fascinated by goalkeepers and the art of keeping. Perfect for young and old alike and backs Bob and Meg’s Willow Foundation.
For more on The Arsenal Foundation visit www.arsenal.com/thearsenalfoundation